Lady Gaga Apologizes For Working With R. Kelly, Vows to Remove 'Do What U Want' From iTunes

Singers R. Kelly (L) and Lady Gaga perform onstage during the 2013 American Music Awards on November 24, 2013 in Los Angeles, California.
Photo: Kevin Winter (Getty Images)

Lady Gaga has finally said it, publicly: she has acknowledged R. Kelly’s reported victims and is remorseful.

If you recall correctly, “Do What U Want (With My Body)“ was a 2013 collaboration between Gaga and R. Kelly, which was originally set to be accompanied by a music video. Thankfully, that idea was scrapped, as the music video’s director Terry Richardson was accused of sexual assault and harassment himself, as TMZ reported in 2014.


Most notably, the two performed the song during the 2013 American Music Awards in a highly triggering onstage display. By including R. Kelly in the mix, the lyrics and subsequent live performance were essentially mocking the longstanding and ongoing sexual abuse reports surrounding him.

As the Lifetime documentary Surviving R. Kelly aired and spawned larger conversations, the question of “how complicit are the people who continue to work with him?” sparked in social media and beyond. Furthermore, co-executive producer dream hampton listed Gaga as one of the celebrities who refused to participate in the doc.

And as the new year bloomed into awards season, Lady Gaga became even more conspicuous as she began to receive more press and attention with the success of her nominations for A Star Is Born.


Black women in particular pointed out the egregious silence as yet another example of just how segregated feminism is between white and black women.


There was (and is) also an important conversation to be had about the ignorance the white community has about specific issues within the black community. Google, of course, does also exist. Thus, there is also a privilege in simply not caring to look. Because one thing is for sure: while white folks may not have been aware, at this point in time it was damn near impossible to not hear the thunderous voices of black people speaking about it. #SurvivingRKelly and #MuteRKelly have been worldwide trending topics, for fuck’s sake.


On Wednesday night, the recent Golden Globe winner took to Twitter to finally release a public statement on the matter.

“I stand behind these women 1000%, believe them, know they are suffering and in pain, and feel strongly that their voices should be heard and taken seriously,” she wrote. “What I am hearing about the allegations against R. Kelly is absolutely horrifying and indefensible.”


Along with pointing out what she described as a “confused post-traumatic state,” Gaga delved into her “explicitly twisted thinking” at the time, not as an “excuse,” but an “explantation.” The performance appeared reminiscent of some sexual assault victims who disassociate from their traumas as well as reflecting the tendency to process said trauma via various perversions. It’s a vicious trajectory and is harmful to both themselves and others.


Additionally, Gaga confirmed an action plan—to remove the song from iTunes and other streaming platforms. She also vowed never to work with the R&B singer again.

“I’m sorry, both for my poor judgment when I was young, and for not speaking out sooner. I love you,” she concluded.


Her statement was subsequently acknowledged by the same culture who called her out.


It’s a process, after all. A complicated and wholly uncomfortable one, at that. And it’s far from over (it’s important to note that her apology is only the first step of an arduous journey).



Share This Story

Get our newsletter

About the author

Tonja Renée Stidhum

Staff Writer, Entertainment at The Root. Sugar, spice & everything rice. Equipped with the uncanny ability to make a Disney reference and a double entendre in the same sentence.